Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has announced he is handing over his social media accounts to Cybersmile as football intensifies the fight to stamp out racist abuse in the game.
Red trio Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane have become the latest in a long list of players targeted on social media following Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg loss to Real Madrid.
Henderson, who missed the game due to injury, posted a series of messages on his Twitter page on Thursday afternoon, confirming he was joining the movement by partnering with Cybersmile.
“Over the past few years I have seen some of my friends, teammates, other players, people from soccer, soccer, society in general, suffer horrific abuse online,” he explained in an accompanying video.
“And yet, I don’t really see much change.
“Again [Tuesday] night some of my teammates experienced racial violence online after a soccer game, and to me that is just unacceptable.
“I thought about removing all social media, but I’m not sure who it helps or what it does.
“So I came across Cybersmile, a foundation that educates, supports and advises people who suffer from abuse on social media or bullying online.
“And I’m going to partner with them over the next few weeks, so that they have full control of all my social media channels to basically promote what they do, how to help people.
Earlier Thursday, Swansea City announced a seven-day sabbatical to post content on its social media channels in a bid to tackle abuse and discrimination online.
Three Swansea players – Yan Dhanda, Ben Cabango and Jamal Lowe – were recently victims of racist abuse on social media and the Championship club said ‘enough is enough’ by taking a firm stand.
Swansea said in a statement: “As of 5pm today, all the players in the first team, those in the professional stage of the academy (under 23 and under 18), Swansea City Ladies, Community Trust, senior club staff, and official club channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok) will not post any content for a period of seven days.
“As a football club, we have seen many of our players abused heinously in the last seven weeks alone, and we believe it is right to take a stand against behavior that is a plague on our sport and society as a whole.
“We will always be steadfast in our support for our players, staff, supporters and the community we proudly represent, and we stand united as a club on this issue.
“We also want to stand alongside players from other clubs who have had to endure despicable discrimination on social media platforms.
“As a club, we are also keenly aware of how social media can impact the mental health of players and staff, and we hope our strong position will highlight the wider effects of abuse.
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Additionally, CEO Julian Winter sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook Founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reiterate the club’s position and desire to see social media companies introduce stricter police measures and penalties for those guilty of the appalling and cowardly abuse which has unfortunately become far too common. “
Swans boss Steve Cooper has admitted he hopes Premier League clubs will follow his side’s lead and boycott social media in the fight against abuse and discrimination online.
He said: “It was a powerful decision and I hope it gained a lot of strength. Even if it helps a bit, it will be a good thing.
“Above all, we want to show our support internally. We want to join the biggest fight against discrimination in general.
“If that gets people thinking about what else can be done, then so much the better.
“It would be great (if others joined Swansea), but it’s a prerogative of the club with the way they deal with forms of discrimination.
“But for us, it’s real. Unfortunately, some of our players have been on the wrong side of abuse, and we don’t stand up for any of that. “